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Monday, September 9, 2013

Wade v. Ports America: Labor Arbitration That Encompasses an Employee's FEHA-Related Common Law Claims Will Preclude the Employee from Later Litigating Those Claims in Court

Wade v. Ports America Management Corporation (8/2/13) --- Cal.App.4th ---, is an interesting case on the preclusive effect of a labor arbitration on common law claims that often arise in an action under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, such as a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The decision's summary does a good job of describing the holding: 
Camargo v. California Portland Cement Co. (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 995 (Camargo), held that a labor arbitration pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has no preclusive effect on a claim pursuant to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code section 12940 et seq., unless the parties expressly agreed to arbitrate FEHA claims. (Camargo, at p. 1008.) On appeal, Calvin Wade contends this holding should be extended to common law claims related to the FEHA, such as a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. We disagree, as there is no comprehensive statutory scheme applicable to FEHA-related common law claims comparable to the FEHA. In the alternative, appellant contends the arbitration had no preclusive effect, as it did not address his racial discrimination claim. We conclude the arbitration encompassed that claim. Accordingly, we affirm the grant of a summary judgment in favor of respondents Marine Terminals Corporation and Ports America Management Corporation (collectively MTC) on appellant's cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. 
Slip  op. at 2. In other words, a labor arbitration that encompasses an employee's FEHA-related common law claims will preclude the employee from later litigating those claims in court.  

The opinion is available here

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